The Group of Four and The Phenomenon They Set in Motion Around the World
What is that phenomenon called when you talk about something that you’ve never heard of or seen before or at least haven’t heard or seen in a long time and then within 24-hours, boom, it’s there, it’s everywhere? Apparently, it’s the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.
Well, just 2 weeks ago a new student joined the English class I have at a company. She works in the IT security department. Talking to her reminded me of one of my all-time favorite podcasts that I had already listened to twice. The second time I remember stifling laughs with my mom on a tour bus as we shared my earphones; I had the left one and my mom had the right one, while on a day trip from Málaga back in January of last year. The podcast is from PRI’s Radiolab and the episode is “Darkcode.” It’s 40 minutes of some of the most entertaining storytelling I’ve ever heard. The way the Russian American mother sing songs the account of her travails while her American born daughter interjects is a beautiful symphony of a horribly frustrating story.
And so I decided to use the podcast last Monday for a lesson on internet security and for the students to practice their listening skills. Also, the IT student could comment on the story and give us her take on it. We listened to what happens when ordinary people have their computers hacked and how the Russian American woman’s husband’s computer screen was frozen when a cross bones and skull appeared with a message demanding a ransom be paid in Bitcoins.
And what happened since last Monday’s class . . . around the world, computer systems came to a halt. Germany’s national railway, like hundreds of thousands of companies like FedEx were held hostage by the ransomware Wannacry, and even the National Health System of Britain was affected.
So this week my students and I glanced around the room, noticing the camera at the front of the room and thinking that if there were other hidden cameras or microphones, maybe we should think carefully about what to talk about, just in case we had the power to set off another crazy phenomenon . . . again.